faith heart by petitemachine

Sci-fi/anime shoot.

Here are the results of my photo shoot with Yvette Bessels earlier this month. I'm pretty proud of these as I was very tired on the day and our makeup artist cancelled so Yvette and I had to conjure something up ourselves. We were going for a kind of sci-fi/anime mash-up, I think this'll please a few people I know...

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faith heart by petitemachine

Home Is Where the Weird Is.

It's odd how much you don't appreciate something enough until it's pretty much vanished from your life.

As a weird kid, I grew up in high school with little to no acceptance from my peers - I read vampire novels and mythology at breaktime and watched Buffy before it became popular. Back then I wasn't a goth, but I had no fashion sense whatsoever, and I was the strangest girl amongst the group of misfits I hung out with (and that's saying a lot).

Despite my misfortune of being ridiculed at school, I did have a refuge. I lived in Manchester, and on my doorstep were two of the best alternative emporiums in the country. When I was 13, Affleck's Palace was a little too vast, a little too labyrinthine for me and my £5 weekly pocket money. The Coliseum, on the other hand, felt cosier, darker - altogether more welcoming to an awkward teenager who liked dressing up far too much. 
My memories of the Coliseum are now all but jumbled - hot chocolate at Isis Cafe, clunky organ music at BATS, making ridiculous photosets on the NEOPRINT! machine. I never bought much, but every now and then my carefully-saved budget would stretch to a marcasite ring or a black feather fan, or a stack of magazines.
It feels like a happy lifetime was spent inside that cavernous trove, but my experiences there can only have lasted three years at the most, because the Coliseum was shut down in 2002, the building having been earmarked for other purposes. 

Like some of the Coliseum's vendors, I slowly migrated across to Affleck's Palace in search of my alternative fix. I learned to love the place, particularly when I'd grown up and found a job - suddenly, with a wage, the heady prices seemed no longer out of reach. I drowned myself in black tulle and lace skirts by Dark Star, Alchemy Gothic jewellery, and the occasional Hello Kitty bag to sate my cute side. I could be found there almost every Saturday, wandering its hallowed halls for hours. Later I would get many of my body mods done at Afflecks, and when I agreed to meet up with my future husband for the first time, we arranged the meeting at Afflecks' Top Cafe. 

Of course, I've been cynical about the place as well. It's a tourist haven as well as a hideaway - one of the city's best-loved attractions. For every innovative and exciting shop on the premises, there also seems to be an inundation of cookie-cutter style, the type of stuff we've all seen a million times over. I may have been guilty of sniping about 'unoriginality' and the dearth of 'scene' fashion that leaks steadily from Afflecks' corners. I say the same thing about Camden, when all I can see are the same brands at every stall, and the horrendous prices that come along with. But when Afflecks' future appeared to be in trouble in 2007, it became clear that I would definitely miss it - I joined the petition to keep it going. Thankfully, it was saved.

And living where I do now, in Leamington Spa, I often feel a pang of heartache when all I want to do is doss around Afflecks at the weekend - if only for the familiarity and the inspiration. For however 'normal' alt culture seems to have become in youthful society, I think we tend to forget that the teens who shop at Afflecks and its ilk are still deemed the 'weird' kids. It may be no shock to our eyes, but to their conservative parents and classmates? They're anything but normal. It's worth remembering that, and supporting the fact that these kids are not becoming the people we loved to hate during high school... they're becoming us. As a teen, I made some VERY questionable alternative fashion decisions - didn't we all? Sometimes I still want to load myself up with black and neon pink and take photos from a Myspace angle (OK, I still do that).

So even though I thought I got bored of Afflecks eventually, I find myself craving it, in a land such as Leamington where everyone shops only at House of Fraser and Topshop, where I get stared at for having short red hair and wearing skulls and studs. 
I sometimes go to the Birmingham Afflecks equivalent, Oasis, and walk around with a heavy heart. It's just not the same as Afflecks, its content is not as diverse... and it lacks a certain vibe, one that only the Northern Quarter can evoke. 

Luckily, I'm getting to visit Manchester in a few weeks, and maybe make a pilgrimage. It's very rare that I'll buy things at Afflecks nowadays, which is one of the secrets of its charm... I'll just wander aimlessly and bask in this world of rich alternative promise.
faith heart by petitemachine

Closet Shots, #1

I'm terrible at doing outfit posts of any kind. Not least because I feel awkward posing in my (usually) untidy abode while Kris attempts to take a halfway decent picture of me. The lighting in our place is scarce and unflattering, and there's hardly enough room to move, never mind find a good backdrop. I also often forget to take such photos. Not the case today, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. 

This outfit is not very considered. I had my hair appointment this morning at 8.30 (I always go for this, it's the earliest one they have, and I like to get it done first thing) and I was up from 6, for some ungodly reason. This dress was the only thing I had to wear that combined sufficient warmth with the fact that it was not dripping wet from the washing machine. We got behind with our laundry recently when we had visitors, and then our drying rack collapsed! So we had a bunch of damp stuff waiting to dry until we got a new one. 
I like the dress, but it's a bit of an unusual choice for me. I'd wanted something warm and cosy when I bought it before Christmas. I tend to like sweater dresses from H&M, but I normally get the ones that fit more snugly. This is looser, it kind of gapes on the torso, though it's cinched in on the hips with a 'belt' (actually a ribbon). I've taken to wearing my own belts with it recently as it gives a more pulled-together look. Add a pair of tights, a blazer and some jewellery and there you go. It doesn't have the wow factor for me, but it was chic enough to wear out today. 

Black cowl neck dress: H&M
Grey pinstripe blazer: H&M
Grey tights: H&M
Grey print belt: River Island
Silver chain: from an Alchemy Gothic necklace
Diamante cross earrings: Top Man (yes, Top Man. In the jewellery section last year - and they did come as a pair!)

faith heart by petitemachine

Short and Shorter.

I wanted a change with my hair. After toying with the idea of growing it again, I went for the quick fix - a shorter, yet different style. After discussing with my stylist, we went with an asymmetrical cut - cropped on the left side, and longer on the right. Still getting used to it, but I think I really like it... I'm also finding myself very much at ease with the shorter side. I've been staring at photos of Keira Knightley when she had cropped hair and thinking I couldn't pull it off because of my lack of cheekbones. I hope I was proven wrong in some way! At the moment we're trying to grow out my fringe so it's more side-swept, but at some point I might get the longer side cut to match the shorter, as I'm enjoying how tomboyish, sharp and unfussy it is! I have a big phobia about showing off my rounded face, so we'll see.
Hopefully I'll be able to replicate the finish when I wash it in a couple of days... therein lies the challenge.

faith heart by petitemachine

The Detox Detox.

Disclaimer: I'm not a nutritional expert or dietician, or a medical professional, so you can choose not to listen to me if you want. Just please speak to one of the aforementioned people if you have any real diet questions or concerns.

It's January. Which means that scattered in amongst all the typical 'New Year's Resolution' blog posts that are the norm for this time of year, we also get treated to a number of diet-related musings and ideas. Most notably, the advocation of detox. Fans of this self-imposed dietary torture will preach its almost-godly health benefits, everything from a cleansed colon to a significantly altered mental state - despite the fact that these things have never especially been proven to be GOOD for the human body.

After reading what seemed like the millionth 'cleanse'-worshipping blog post of this year thus far, I had a short rant on Facebook about my feelings on the subject. I was pleasantly surprised by the comments I received, and the amount of people who agree with me in thinking detoxes are bollocks. 

The harsh regimes can be anywhere from excessively restrictive raw diets, liquid diets (in the form of soups and juices) and, at the most extreme end, water fasts. Usually such plans go on for weeks, during which time the detoxers alternate between giving painful accounts of their suffering and shouting from the rooftops about how AMAZING they feel.

The supposed 'euphoria' that often seems to accompany such cleanses is probably the main thing that disturbs me. As some of you will know, I'm a recovered anorexic who dealt with the illness for almost four years as a late teenager. For most of this period, I was a willing victim, and pro-ana in the worst sense of the word.

There's no need for me to go into much detail about what exactly anorexia can do to you - that's another, much more depressing post that may never come to fruition, and it's easily Google-able. But one of the chief things I recall from being an anorexic is that little thrill that courses through a malnourished brain. Lightheadedness can be oddly euphoric, especially if one knuckles down to a task and finds themselves unusually lucid and able to concentrate. You'd think the opposite is true, for someone who isn't eating, but powering on is something that people with EDs do every single day. 

I'm not in any way suggesting that all the folks who detox are concealing (or lauding) some kind of eating disorder, or even that they are promoting eating disorders to vulnerable men (yes, men have these issues too) and women. It just needs to be noted that, when your brain is starved of adequate nutrients, reactions such as 'euphoria' are not uncommon, and it's something that needs to be carefully monitored. Deprivation is not a worthwhile route to anything. Abstinence is not the answer (and that goes for food, too).

I reserve a special kind of hatred for those bloggers who, when doling out diet advice, do not suggest that their readers visit a doctor before embarking on ANY kind of radical lifestyle change. I know, it's common sense - but then it's also common courtesy of people to mention it as a reminder. Sure, that doesn't mean said readers WILL bother to go to their GP before trying detox, but then it isn't our problem anymore. 

As an aside to all my apparent venom on this topic, you'll find that most doctors do not advocate these kinds of extreme measures when it comes to switching up your eating habits. Personally, if I've decided to go on a health kick, I'll just slowly introduce more fruits and vegetables into my daily diet, and healthier snacks, then cut down on the dairy and chocolate. Unless you're trying to lose pounds rapidly, or you have a special medical condition, or you need a specified health plan for a particular weight issue - in which case you should DEFINITELY speak to your doctor first - that and an increase in exercise are the only things that are going to cut it. You don't need to forcibly fuck your system into submission - it's designed to flush out impurities and toxins on its own. In my mind, heavy detox is akin to vaginal douching (no, you're not supposed to do that either. Seriously), and don't even get me started on colonic irrigation. Eat what you want (within reason - as long as you're not living off Party Rings you should be OK) and exercise. Really. It isn't rocket science. The issue with detox is that it is the lowest point of perpetual hysteria about what we can and can't eat, when honestly, you CAN eat quite a lot of things. Cleansing may only be routine for several days/weeks, but the culture of nutritional boot camps, for example (they do exist, unfortunately) is a significant indicator of our obsession with food - eating it, not eating it, eating it and then purging it - same difference, same obsession.

My message here is simply to BE SENSIBLE. However, if you don't feel like being sensible, at least be careful. I'll be here, eating cake. 

(P.S. I took the cake photo at the Florian in Venice in 2008. It's the chocolate mousse. It can destroy worlds, and taste bloody amazing whilst doing so).
faith heart by petitemachine

Fashion fights evil

I've slowly become attracted to those double or triple (or quadruple?) rings, though only since I've seen some bad-ass looking ones. This silver cross one from Top Man looks more like a weapon that the Winchester brothers might use against vampires, so it caught my eye... unfortunately, every time I try this type of ring on it's the same. It feels awkward on my fingers - I know it's frivolous fashion and all, but I still like a degree of functionality with my digits, even when I'm not pretending to be a wise-cracking devil hunter. Sure, you could smash a demon in the face with it, but you'd better be certain you aren't wearing it on your gun-toting hand, or you might fail. So far, I haven't seen a design that made me want to risk that kind of danger.

I'd make an exception for John Constantine's holy knuckle duster, though...

faith heart by petitemachine


If you type 'wedding venice goth' into Google Images, a couple of my wedding photos spring up on the first page. This is equally amusing and unsurprising to me - if you merely type in 'venice wedding' you are met with a sea of traditional-looking weddings that took place in the Fairy City. The Regency Weddings staff seemed rather intrigued by Kris and I, being that we only met them once we were in Venice - however they complimented us on being different. And our photographer had a field day with his journalistic view of our style - telling Kris to scowl at me from a distance like a spoiled prince and telling me to look out of the window - 'As though, you are sad. You are being taken away from your family!'

My wedding was featured on Offbeat Bride a long while ago, but the blog is still on my feed despite the fact I'm not planning a wedding. I often scroll past, but other times certain photos catch my eye, of a particular gown or wedding theme. It's quite rare that I get jealous of someone else's 'offbeat' wedding, or wish that I had done things differently with mine. More likely, I just wish that I could do it again. If only as yet another excuse to go back to Venice. 

Venice is one of those places that really, I should not feel much affiliation with at all, other than finding it enchanting. It's very much a home I have adopted (whether Venice has chosen to adopt me in turn, I'm not sure). I do not have Italian blood, I did not have a long obsession with it before going there, unlike Chateau Versailles which I visited this year. I had simply heard about the masquerade balls for Carnevale and dreamed of attending, but never had anyone to take with me. Kris was definitely the right person - we had dated for a few months before deciding to go away together, and I just threw the idea of Venice out there.

It was magical, both then and the following year when we were married but moreso the first time. Because it was new and exciting and still perfectly familiar, and this coincided with how I felt about my young relationship with Kris, innocent and filled with romance yet comfortable and 'right.' Despite this, I don't see Venice as a necessarily 'romantic' city, like many others believe. If anything, it is like Paris - its perceived romance lies in its past (and present) debauchery and decadence, and the decay on the streets signifies a glorious existence of destructive excess. It's rotting away, but it feels like it has been doing so forever.

It breaks my heart that money constraints are going to prevent us from returning yet again this spring. If I could only travel to one place for the rest of my life, Venice would be it. I find it especially jarring when I'm sat with a coffee at Corleone (our local Italian cafe, the closest we'll get for now) in the winter, lamenting the damp chill of outside. In Venice, the cold is bracing and dry, and doesn't leave you feeling like you have the flu. 

I'm re-reading Casanova's The Story of My Life, and it's making me ache in ways I didn't think possible. For some reason, I've come across countless online and paper magazines recently that have featured Venice in their travel guides for next year, or described it as a hot place to go. This causes me to itch with envy and yearning; and I keep telling myself that maybe, soon... 

For now, I just have memories. And photographs.  Collapse )
faith heart by petitemachine


GUYS. I'm selling some of my clothes... here's your chance to snap up a little of my effortless good taste, lol. For this post - fetishwear, mrowr. BUY PLZ I NEED TO FEED THE KITTIES!!!

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faith heart by petitemachine

Old Flame

You can't tell from this screenshot (or the film itself, which is also black and white), but Rita Hayworth as Gilda (1946) epitomises the essence of the fiesty redhead. As classic movie stars go, I think she's my favourite, bar Vivien Leigh. Rita's screen presence was invariably smouldering, and would have been so without her auburn mane, but it's one of her more recognisable assets. 

However, it wasn't natural. Rita (born Margarita Carmen Cansino) was of Spanish descent, and at the start of her career was forced into typical Hispanic parts based on her heritage. The changes she made to her image (not just the hair colour, but also painful electrolysis to broaden her forehead) helped her into the starring roles that made her a household name. 

Like Rita, I'm not a natural redhead, but I've often felt like I should be one. My mother has brown-auburn hair which she constantly dyes over because she hates it, but I've always liked the reddish tones that she passed down to me. The redhead can encapsulate two personalities - the mischievous minx and the pale-skinned innocent.

I'll admit that the reasoning behind my sudden colour change was partially practical. Since I don't have a day job currently, I need to scale down some of my expenses, and that includes my salon visits. I'll still get regular cuts, but my foray into blonde hair seems doomed for the time being. On Saturday, I was out shopping and made the decision to grab an at-home dye. I almost went for chocolate brown or coffee, but since my hair's been so lightened, it seemed a little stupid not to return to red for a while. It's the same shade as I had back in spring of this year, but quite a lot brighter still (and it was bright then!)

Do I feel like I failed at the blonde thing? Not really. It's a shame, and I was getting into being Goldilocks, but financial convenience is more important. Plus, I'm known for switching up my appearance on a complete whim - may as well stay true to my flippancy!

I might not be a Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece, but now I'm back to red, it feels like I never left it...

faith heart by petitemachine


I recently bought a pair of bleach denim shorts. You know, the distressed, frazzled kind that are supposed to look like you took a pair of garden shears to your favourite jeans. Now, I wouldn't be doing this in real life, because I don't HAVE a favourite pair of jeans. In fact, denim is something I buy extremely sporadically, and the rest of the time I loathe it in most forms. 

So why do I suddenly have an item of denim that screams 'BACKWOODS CHEERLEADER'? It's illustrative of my intensely messed-up style of late. It was only a short while ago that I thought I had my personal style figured out, that this was IT... whatever IT was. Something to do with monochrome, absolute black, grey and silver, dark and chic. 
And then I realised that it was becoming far too easy to find the pieces I wanted for this look. On the high street, on Etsy, in all the designer collections... and it's still around. Goth is super hot, and you know it. On all the blogs in all the corners of the web, it'll crop up. 

Now, I'm not that possessive of my own style, and I know for sure that none of the big designers have been secretly raiding my wardrobe at night. But being forcibly drowned in my favored fashions everywhere I go has made me ache for something a little different. Or at least, taking a different view on how I dress. 

The internet is filled with style bloggers who have a specific look pulled together. It seems to be the thing that most fashionistas aspire to - minimalism in one's wardrobe, thanks to knowing exactly what works. The problem with me lately, has been that I DO know what works... and it's a fair few things. With chopping my hair off, I worried that it would limit my style choices. It's actually the opposite - simply brushing my hair into different directions can make me more punk, or more prim and classic. It's also caused many a sartorial dilemma, because when you can wake up and not even touch your hair (the world of not brushing occasionally is completely new to me) - what on earth do you wear? You can wear whatever the hell you want. 

I've never conformed to traditional style rules, but breaking the few rules I set for myself has been difficult. Colour - well, lots of it - still scares me. Not as a stylist or as someone who appreciates clothes, but an outfit that's too loud or busy still stresses me internally. I can clash, but not too much. Happily this restraint means that my mistakes are few and far between, but it also means that I often shy away from things I'm not sure about. I'm always saying that other people should take fashion risks - perhaps I should take my own advice once in a while. I used to be more extravagant with how I dressed, but I think living in Leam has stolen this from me, thanks to the small-town mentality and the reactions of people surrounding me. In that case, I need to work hard to try and redefine what my style should truly be, and being more daring might be the only way.

I'm vaguely embarrassed about my fashion schizophrenia, which means I'm not one for outfit photos right now - but who knows, maybe that would be useful. In a few months, if I can describe my style in ten words or less, I'll consider it an achievement.